Hellooooo sports fans! This broadcast is brought to you by our fine friends at Games Workshop who were kind enough to send me a brand spanking new copy of the Spike! Almanac for 2021 (even though we’re now in 2022 but that still checks out). Alongside our sponsors, Orcidas and Cabal Vision, we’re going to bring you the top 5 plays from this hard-hitting, hardback tome for true sports fans just like you. So get your foam fingers and foam-domes out, put those team colours on and settle in as we hit the gridiron for the Spike! Alamanac Top 5 plays!!!
Ok, enough of the sports enthusiast spiel – don’t expect much more of that in this post (sometimes I get too into doing things like that, so no promises). Let’s look at the five best bits, in my opinion, from this brutal book.
1 – The Comic Strips
Blood Bowl hits my funny bone so wonderfully with things like this. This is a very entertaining book, with lots to make you smile and giggle, and the handful of comic strips that run through these pages are delightful. They centre around (our heroes) Jim and Bob, and have a Bob Crumb sort of look to them (like a U-rated Fritz The Cat but set in the Blood Bowl universe). These are great at reinforcing the fact/idea that this game and its setting are ridiculous, hilarious and all about having fun. You may have brought this book for the rules (and there are a lot of those to go through), but I’m sure you’ll love the laughs that land on every page.
2 – The Illustrations
We’ll get onto rules in a moment, folks (I promise), but I just want to say that I am now 100% behind the illustrative style of this game’s official products and books. I’ve said it before here, but when I first saw the new look of this game, I hated it, but this book has wiped out the very last shreds of that opinion that has been worn down over time. You will find your eyes hovering over some of the incidental illustrations just because they’re so much fun. The player and star player art is great too, and props have to go to the people who created these images and put the book together. Well done to all involved – it looks smashing.
3 – Four Player Dungeon Bowl
I’ve been quietly enjoying Dungeon Bowl since its release, and boy is that enjoyment about to get loud. The idea of four players sending their teams to charge around a dungeon brings a sort of panicked delight to my heart. It will be pure madness, but is bound to be full of laughs too. There’s a nice section on the rules for this sort of game in the book, and a couple of example dungeons that just look like pain, laughs and smiles to me. My College of Beasts Team will certainly enjoy the madness of this sort of game, though I dare say the laughs will be balanced with a fair amount of tactical stress. This is a great thing to include in this book.
4 – All-Star Games
This is a biggy. If you have been enjoying collecting Star Players for a while now, you may feel slightly aggrieved that you haven’t been able to use them too often in your leagues. I think Varag Ghoulchewer has appeared about three times for my Orcs in the last five years (but then my Orcs suck so I don’t hold it against him). Well, worry no more – you can now take on a friend in a non-league all star game where only Star Players take to the field. You might have Griff Oberwald, Morg n Thorg, Akhorne and The Swift Twins all in the same team, and that might just be your bench! The examples given in the book are frankly mouthwatering in their potential for delivering fun for all involved. Bring it on!
5 – Star Player Profiles
Sticking with the pricy-n-spicy superstar sports-folk that you can hire into your game (or take to one of the aforementioned All-Star games), there are some wonderful Star Player profiles in here, some of which, if you buy Spike! regularly, you’ll already know about, but I think there are a couple of new ones here too (I think – I don’t get Spike! every time it comes out). I really like how they do this, in that there’s a nice big illustration, the rules, and some back ground spread across two sides of A4. It’s concise, yet flavourful and lavish at the same time. And seeing the rules for Grashnak Blackhoof really took me back to my early days in Blood Bowl – that minotaur used to do a lot of heavy lifting in my teams.
Those are my favourite five things, but this is a thick book full of rules, lore, laughs and information about your favourite game of fantasy football. It’s jam-packed and a real treat to dive into. If Blood Bowl is your game, you need this book, and you’ll love flicking through those glossy pages. Onwards!
P.S. – if you want a full, in-depth review of this book, done by true experts, check out the Both Down podcast – those guys are great and they know this game better than me too.